Written by Sterling Gates with pencils by Jamal Igle and inks by Jon Sibal
This issue isn’t the usual hero vs villain business. Instead, it's a story in which Supergirl joins journalist Cat Grant to track down whoever is kidnapping kids off the streets of Metropolis. The mystery has special resonance for Cat, as her son Adam was murdered by the Toyman (later needlessly retconned into a Toyman robot). The situation gives Kara a chance to learn why Cat hates her, and Cat an opportunity to hear Kara's point of view.
The Sterling Gates/Jamal Igle creative teaming ends after next issue and it’s sad to see them go. The people Gates writes and the relationships he fosters are among the most real in comics and they benefit hugely from the skills of Igle, whose storytelling choices are always spot-on, and followed through with style. Where lazy creators repeat panel after panel for talking heads scene, Gates and Igle like things more animated.
Gates and Igle have defined Supergirl for the modern era and while they're in the final stretch, they're not coasting. This month's mood is far from that of previous issues, but because characters are so well defined, we can comfortably plug into something different. Even Cat is allowed admirable qualities, such as her mother's devotion, and reporter's courage in entering her apartment when she knows the villain is likely to be inside.
The most intense scene of the issue is the Arkham Asylum interview with Winslow Schott, the toymaker turned menace. Having received creepy dolls on the days children vanish, Cat quite reasonably suspects he's behind the disappearances. However, the real villain appears (back from an earlier in the series) in just a single panel, but makes a big impression. (Yes, I could tell you more, but this comic book deserves extra readers - if you've some spare pennies, and haven't tried Supergirl as of late, give it a go.)
My only criticism is about the cover. The cover illustration by Amy Reeder, colored by Guy Major, is certainly gorgeous, but it doesn't do this issue justice. Smiley Supergirl is suited to a poster book or a first issue. But this issue's change of pace story should be represented on the cover to let potential buyers know there's a different flavor to the drama inside.